4 Ways to fill Winter Vacancies
(What to do with down time)
In the rental business, vacancies are your “out of order” sign.
If you have a vacant unit, as a property owner, you:
- Make no money
- Are unable to pay bills
- Are unable to make repairs
Vacancies are the kiss of death for rentals. Having a vacancy in the winter is a double loss. You do not bring in rental payments and your expenses are higher due to keeping a vacant unit warm and time spent to make frequent visits.
While the unit is vacant make sure to do the following maintenance items to keep it in rentable condition and not worry about unnecessary repairs.
First, make sure the heat is set to 60°F. This will keep the unit warm enough to stop the water pipes from freezing.
Second, if you don’t think you will fill the unit, turn the water off and drain the faucets and toilets. This will again prevent freezing and prevent flooding if there is a leak with no one to see it.
Third, you’ll want to make regular visits to your empty units. Visit at least once a week to make sure there are no plumbing, electrical or infestation issues. Empty units are havens during the winter for mice and other critters looking for a warm place to stay.
Lastly, you’ll be responsible for the snow removal while you have a vacant unit. Have the shovels and salt ready to keep your sidewalks clear.
What are some ways you can fill those winter vacancies fast?
You may want to take any applicant you get to have someone living in your vacant units. However, this is unadvisable. Much like any other time of the year, bending your rental criteria and hastily accepting an unqualified tenant will cost you more money in the end. Your quick judgment could lead to eviction and cost more time and money. Don’t do it.
Here are the 4 tips you should use to fill those empty units fast!
- Lower the price—You don’t want it sitting empty and a qualified tenant will appreciate the lower rental payments. This way you are not compromising your qualifications, but accepting less in rent.
- Vary lease terms—You don’t want to repeat winter vacancies year after year. Consider going to a 16 month or 18 month lease term. Giving you a possible turnover in the summer or fall, both easier seasons to find tenants. You could also shorten your lease to a 6-8 month term giving you the same results of a summer turnover or yearly lease extension.
- Focus on January— If you have some down time, do some extra repairs and replacements you may have been putting off and focus on having the unit available January 1st. From Thanksgiving to Christmas, people are not focusing on moving, even if they have to. The holidays have people overspending and not planning ahead. Waiting until January 1st may have new prospects looking for housing. By keeping up on those repairs will allow you to raise your rents to qualified tenants.
- Offer a bonus gift— If you are advertising during the holidays you could offer to give them a free month by signing a longer lease or a gift of a free TV or cable/internet for a specific period of time with a year lease. As we said the holidays often have people a little over extended, they may be able to afford rent normally but any little bit helps with other expenses. Giving back $200, may be half your rent but is less expensive than another vacant month and appreciated by tenants.
As a landlord, you can look at how your rentals are doing overall and change up the lease terms to work best for you. You have the right to add clauses about moving during the winter months. Consult your lawyer to make sure your contract will stand up to an eviction if necessary.
If you are working with a property management company, like Day Property Management, www.daypropertymanagement.com, they will have insights as to what is working in your local community to keep tenants happy and attracting new tenants. Contact us today to see how we can help you fill your vacancies. Call 920-968-0626 or fill out our contact form.